Watchdog groups are suing the Trump administration (again), this time for failure to disclose records of visitors to the White House and to President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago and Trump Tower residences.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in New York federal court by Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW), the non-profit National Security Archive, and
the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, charges that the Secret Service—which maintains White House visitor logs—has refused to turn them over in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service, is named as defendant (pdf) in the suit.
In response to CREW lawsuits, the Obama administration in 2009 agreed to release White House visitor logs every three to four months, with limited exceptions. According to CREW, those logs contained the names of each White House visitor, the dates of their visits, and who requested they be cleared for entry. “Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process,” then-President Barack Obama said in announcing the policy.
But the current White House “has refused to say whether it will continue to provide public access to White House visitor logs,” Monday’s lawsuit reads—even despite letters, sent last month from eight U.S. senators to Trump and to U.S. Secret Service deputy director William J. Callahan, seeking a continuation of the Obama-era policy.
“It would be a significant setback to efforts to give the public insight into who influences the White House if this policy were to be discontinued or limited,” the letter to Callahan read. “Indeed, given the unique aspects of how President Trump has decided to conduct official business, we believe he needs to do even more just to meet the benchmark of transparency set by President Obama.”
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